16 years ago today we published our first post as BikePortland (if you see posts before that it’s because I’d been posting since mid-April of that same year for The Oregonian before launching my own thing here).
About 16,000 Front Page posts and 500,000 comments later here we are, still serving this community with news, information, and conversation.
When I think about our time doing this, the word that always comes up is change. Constant change. Everything about the city and the world around BikePortland has changed dramatically since 2005.
In 2005 we were on what felt like a massive wave of cycling in Portland. A history of cultural acceptance and political weight behind cycling mixed with a fast-growing city to form a flowering of creative cultural expressions around cycling that I found absolutely captivating. The democratization of media and the rise of blogs happened at the same moment I was setting down roots in Portland, and my wide-eyed enthusiasm for the bike scene was the perfect thing to test its potential.
Riding that wave was the best of times. It felt like we could do anything and that Portland was destined to be the global beacon of bicycling. “No way! What about Amsterdam and Copenhagen!” people used to reply when I’d boast that Portland could be the world’s best biking city. “What about them?” I’d say. Over there, biking is just part of daily life and bikes “are like vacuum cleaners” (as Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize fame said during a talk in Portland in 2009). How boring! In Portland, we had (have!) the chance to be the first great biking city where tons of people ride everyday and there’s a fun, vibrant culture that celebrates the cycling lifestyle.
Then of course things got complicated. Around 2010 or so the shine started to come off the apple. In 2008 we slogged through a big scandal and then saw biking rates stagnate as many Portlanders (fueled in large part by media and false narratives) became a bit more skeptical about cycling. That skepticism and stagnation has remained for the past half-decade or so.
Along the way, there have also been vast changes in the media landscape.
Believe it or not when BikePortland first started, it was a novelty to have reader comments on the web (the lack of them was one big reason I ditched The Oregonian’s blog network and launched my own thing). We were the first major place in Portland where bike lovers and advocates could have their voices published online. That had vast implications on the spread of ideas in our community and led to a rip-roaring comment section where it wasn’t uncommon for us to publish several hundred of them in a single week. And remember, there was no social media when BikePortland came of age, so BikePortland was the place to air all the news and views.
Fast forward to today and there’s a much more rich and diverse selection of Portland cycling media to choose from. It’s like a beautiful bicycling content buffet right at our fingertips.
But as much as things have changed, they’ve also remained the same. BikePortland is still here, doing essentially the same things we’ve always done: amplify the work of advocates, community leaders, and activists; cross-pollinate ideas and help connect people across the community; elevate new voices; share a wide cross-section of perspectives; build a bigger tent for cycling; and of course publish the daily breaking news and stories you’ve come to expect.
With new funding and a strong (and growing!) base of subscribers, we’ll continue to change and evolve and do whatever this community needs. By 2025 BikePortland will look much different than it does now, and I think you’re going to love it.
I’m so grateful for your support all these years. Thank you!
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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